|Alan and Polly Harrison
This is our 30th year of business at our shop here in Olney, Buckinghamshire. We count ourselves lucky to have been involved in the oriental rug trade for so long. Our task has been to act as a conduit for these works of textile art between weaver and end user. We have had the good fortune to travel to parts of the world that many others have not and gained privileged insight to cultures so different from our own.
The nature of the business we conduct is simply trade. Oriental rugs are a trading commodity just like oil, gold, spices or any other item. Oriental rugs are woven by poor people to sell to rich people. In return, the rich pass a tiny portion of their wealth down the line to enable the weavers to make a living. This is the way things have been for hundreds of years.
There are so many people involved in the making of a single rug. In certain areas, entire communities rely on rug production. The industry funds education and welfare as well as day to day living for those involved. When you buy a rug from us you can be sure that your purchase contributes to the quality of life of all those involved in its making. None the less we should never become complacent about the huge differential between the lifestyle of the labour force and that of ours in the UK.
Polly and I take very seriously, issues surrounding labour practices in the rug-making industry. We endeavour to trade ethically as far as we are able. We keep to basic core principals that are beneficial to all of those folk that are involved in the production of our rugs. In this way, we endeavour to make sure that our trade is not exploitative and specifically excludes the use of child labour and bonded labour.
The loom owners are educated people often speaking many languages as they trade worldwide. They are well aware of the sensitivity of the western markets to human rights issues and conduct their businesses accordingly. We make very clear to them our criteria for trading with us.
Over the years, we have been involved with many projects to make life easier for the communities that weave our rugs. Primarily we have sponsored school and educational development. We intend to continue with these projects for as long as we can.
The most recent (2014) was the refurbishment of a room for computer studies. The purchase of computers and the construction of a play area at a school in Lahore, Pakistan. We will upload photos when they are available.